One of the archetypes of martial arts is the figure or the peaceful warrior. The martial artist who has gained great skill in fighting, and through the hardship and challenge of acquiring these skills has also developed inner calm, and as a result seeks to avoid conflict whenever possible. These characters which occur over and over in martial arts stories are great examples that I think are good for Long White Cloud Kung Fu students to aspire to.
What Causes Violence and Aggression?
To become a peaceful warrior we need to understand what leads to violence and aggression in others and also in ourselves. We do this by being exposed to violence and studying it in a safe and controlled way. We find that there is one main motivator for initiating violence, and that is fear.
Fear comes from feeling that we are not safe and that we cannot control things that may cause us harm. A natural response to this is to try to assert yourself in a way that will cause you to regain control of a situation, and for some people that assertion takes the form of physical or some other type of violence.
Another motivator for initiating violence is greed, but when we examine this closely we find that this is really just another form of fear as well. When someone is greedy they seek to take more than they need from others and maybe to even control others to get what they want. Someone acting on greed does so because on some level they fear not having enough, so they overact and overcompensate by trying to take more than they need. Their desire to control others also comes from their fear that otherwise they will not get what they need and want from them. For whatever reason they have not learned that we actually all get more of what we want when we co-operate together and allow people to act of their own free will rather than by trying to force others into getting our way.
The Remedy For Fear
To become a peaceful warrior takes time practice and discipline. It is natural to become fearful in the face of violence and conflict, but the peaceful warriors seek to overcome this fear by making their bodies strong and resilient and less vulnerable to being hurt. They study fighting techniques and learn to defend against them. As their training progresses, they put themselves in situations similar to real fighting, where their training partner can attack them in any way they wish (sparring and scenario training). These situations can be overwhelming to begin with, but little by little the peaceful warriors build their skill and confidence until they no longer fear violence.
They also develop great friendships with the people they train with. They learn to tell when someone is really trying to hurt them or if they are just testing them. They learn to understand they give and take of life and that the odd lump and bump is not cause for offense or retaliation.
With this confidence developed through training the peaceful warriors become calm in the face of conflict and are able to think more clearly. They do not over react, and because they are calm they are able to see other options than to respond to aggression with more aggression. This means that they become very skilful in avoiding violence.
The Peaceful Warrior Is Not A Pushover
Sometimes because the peaceful warrior is so good at avoiding violence, people make the mistake of thinking that they are a pushover or that they are scared of conflict. This is not so. The peaceful warrior simply understands the undesirable effects of violence and that there is rarely a true ‘winner’. The peaceful warrior does understand however that sometimes conflict is unavoidable, and when necessary the peaceful warrior will act decisively to protect themselves and others. They view this as an undesirable outcome though, and the more skilful they become – the less often this is necessary. As the saying goes: ‘the best way to win a fight is to not be there’.